Kelly O'Connor

Kelly O'Connor creates collages influenced by her own memories, fantasy and pop culture using media such as printed photos and colorful shapes which she layers to create super psychedelic and surreal scenes. These mythological scenes Kelly creates are to challenge these western cultural ideals that we get through pop culture facades that we readily embrace. I really like Kelly O'Connor's work and the meanings behind it, I especially love her use of colourful geometric shapes on top of old photos which I think creates a really vivid contrast as shapes like this remind me of of futuristic set designs from the old Doctor Who series.

In the series of work entitled Post Utopia Kelly O'Connor takes a more introspective approach to her work taking images from an area of Yellowstone she visited as a child. Judy Garland as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz features in the majority of these pieces and acts as O'Connors alter ego. O'Connor likes using figures such as Judy Garland as in their iconic role they provide such artificial joy when in reality their lives were quite tragic. This again is O'Connor exposing the duality of public facades which she explains that her work to a great extent is all about in her artist statement. 

For me O'Connor's intricate collages are not just a thing of beauty but are also so intriguing and purposeful. I've never appreciated collage so much and I think the way she creates such mystical and eery scenes is really powerful in conveying her message about pop culture in our society.

Looking at Kelly O'Connor's work has inspired me to create some more collages using themes of pop culture, shapes and to be more purposeful in what social messages my work can convey.

The first collage I made includes this iconic photo of Mia Wallace from the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction holding a cigarette in her hand. I created this with expressing my feelings towards smoking in mind and also used an old cigarette advert and image of the respiratory system to juxtapose one another. For me this collage represents what influences smoking which are the companies that produce the products and advertise them, health professionals who tell people to quit smoking and more social factors like people we see on television looking cool while holding a cigarette. I also used a piece of brown paper to create some negative space under my image of the lungs, this picture could of filled the whole space but I thought adding this negative space communicates the feeling that the large corporations are still making just as much money at the expense of the general public's health. 

After playing around with colours in my Davis Ayer inspired images I decided to try the same with my collages by playing around with the vibrancy to see the effect it has on the image. 

I particularly like this effect as it merges all the elements together nicely and gives a more surreal feel to the piece.

In my next collage I took a little bit more inspiration from Kelly O'Connor and chose an iconic character from one of my favourite films American Beauty. Angela Hayes really represents a very common character figure which is the high school mean girl who thinks they are better than everyone else. I created elements around Angela to create this imaginary world behind her, which people seem to be in at this time of their lives when they tend to be still be quite naive and still don't have to take on the responsibilities of real life. I cut out some hexagons inspired by O'Connor's wide use of geometric shapes, drew some obscure looking plant shapes, and used an image of space and the stars for the background and stuck some foil down and pressed circles into it to create some texture. 

Again I have played with the vibrancy of this image to create an Angela Hayes green with envy and giving more of a mystical feel to her surroundings.

I found this image of Jesus in an old Bible and decided I had to do something with it. I'd printed off a few images of cigarette type adverts for my collage with Mia Wallace and though it would be ironic to make Jesus endorse safety matches. I decided to press brown paint into circles on this image to take away the detail on the centre of the packaging and create some texture and I then stuck my image of Jesus over the top. I just find this little collage humorous because of the way he has his hand out to take you in creating an ironically emotive feel with this product. 

For my next collage I decided to try using a photo I had taken of my sister rather than a recognizable figure. I personally like being more minimal with collage and this is my personal favourite as I really like the way I put the elements of the collage together.

I also decided to play with the vibrancy of these photos which I think created some really interesting effects.

I also decided to photocopy my original collage to see what I could do with it. I decided to fill in the circles with brightly coloured oil pastels and painted the background in. I also put white chalk over my subject and rubbed it in to create a really grungy, worn look to the image. 

I really enjoyed producing these experiments and really like how they turned out. Doing this has made me think about more about different forms of image making and how I can use collage techniques in my future work. 

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